“# I Am And I Will” is the theme chosen for World Cancer Day which is being observed today February 4, 2020. The Federal Ministry of Health uses this occasion to stand in solidarity with all persons who have been diagnosed with cancer; to encourage and salute all healthcare professionals and family members who help to care for cancer patients; and to acknowledge and
commend the efforts of governments, the private sector, researchers, scientists, donor agencies and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) who continue to invest in the fight against cancer. The Ministry also prayerfully remembers all those who have lost their battles with cancer and the families whose lives have been forever changed by the loss of their loved ones.

Minister of State with Responsibility for Health, the Hon Senator Wendy C. Phipps noted that cancer continues to be a formidable challenge to the people of St. Kitts and Nevis: “Cancer is no respecter of persons,” Minister Phipps stated. “It does not choose whom to attack, and it constitutes one of the most deadly forms of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) for our citizens and residents. As a cadre of illnesses, NCDs are already responsible for some 83% of all deaths in the Federation, and cancer is the leading cause of death in our Country: during the years 2014 – 2019, cancer claimed 235 lives, when compared to heart disease and diabetes which accounted for 173 deaths and 127 deaths, respectively, during the same period.”

Minister Phipps noted that in the year 2019 alone there were some 63 cases of cancer diagnosed between January and November, with the leading types of such cancers being breast cancer in St. Kitts (15.3%) and prostate cancer in Nevis (11.5%).

On the occasion of the 20th Anniversary of World Cancer Day the Federation’s Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr Hazel Laws, was careful to point out that every citizen and resident of our Country must take into account our very small population, and noted that – in spite of this – every effort must be made to combat cancer. CMO Laws said:

Our national cancer data tell us that we must continue to aggressively prevent the disease wherever we can, through healthy dietary and lifestyle changes. There is growing data to illustrate that positive thinking and spiritual growth also help. We must pursue regular screenings since early detection saves lives. Our community-based and institution-based health care services at our Nation’s health centres and hospitals are here to help with such screenings and medical check-ups. We must also be relentless in the quest for new, more effective and less invasive treatments than the traditional ones, such as surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. Technology, research and innovation will continue to set the tone for these advancements to improve the human condition.”

The Federal Ministry of Health utilises this 2020 World Cancer Day as the ideal opportunity to remind our people that the selection of the theme #I Am and I Will” is a sustained clarion call – started in 2019 – for each and every person to recognise his or her individual role in the fight against cancer. The Ministry stressed that every person suffering from cancer affects the rest who are deemed cancer-free, particularly when that diagnosis unfortunately results in the death of the patient:

“Every life in this Country is precious. As individuals, we must recognise that ‘each man’s death diminishes me.’ We are all in this together. There is strength in numbers, and greater progress is achieved in reducing the global impact of cancer through collective commitment and action,” the Ministry’s statement on World Cancer Day concluded.